Prosecutors fume over investigation of one of their own
The Civil Service Commission recently decided to take disciplinary action against Relly Gutman, of the Haifa District Prosecutor’s Office, on suspicion of overbilling.
The state prosecutors’ union yesterday accused the Civil Service Commission of investigating a senior Haifa prosecutor because of work she had done on its behalf.
The Civil Service Commission recently decided to take disciplinary action against Relly Gutman, of the Haifa District Prosecutor’s Office, on suspicion of overbilling, Haaretz reported yesterday.
The decision followed a complaint filed against Gutman by Haifa Prosecutor Amit Aisman, accusing her of billing hours in which she was engaged in personal matters as work hours.
Gadi Shilo, secretary of the prosecutors’ union, blasted Aisman, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Asaf Rosenberg, the official in charge of the Civil Service Commission’s disciplinary division, who had decided to take steps against Gutman.
“Apparently some people have not forgotten Gutman’s work on behalf of the workers’ union and have enlisted Civil Service Commission’s detectives in a bid to deprive her of promotion and degrade her in front of her co-workers,” Shilo said yesterday. The union represents all the attorneys employed by the Justice Ministry.
Gutman told Haaretz the investigation began after Aisman filed the complaint against her. She said Aisman was hounding her because he wanted to be appointed head of the office’s criminal division and wanted to stop her from getting the job.
“The Haifa prosecutor [Aisman] lodged a complaint against me, making cynical use of the Civil Service Commission, with the intention of furthering his personal interests. He wants to keep me out of the running. He can’t touch me when it comes to professionalism, so he is trying to get me with nonsense,” Gutman said.
Justice Ministry officials denied these allegations.
Civil Service Commission investigators have questioned Haifa District Court Judge Yosef Elron about Gutman’s work, Haaretz has learned.
Elron and Gutman co-drafted legislation proposals and some of the hours Gutman billed were for this work. Elron was asked to verify Gutman’s reports regarding their meeting times.
Shilo castigated the Civil Service Commission’s surveillance of Gutman, saying it was a result of a clash Gutman had had with Aisman over the latter’s authorities.
Shilo said it was deplorable to monitor the activities of a senior prosecutor, who had successfully handled and is in charge of serious criminal cases.
A Haifa prosecutor said the civil service commission’s surveillance of prosecutors was “crossing a red line.”
“Some investigations should not be carried out against prosecutors,” he said. “If there are suspicions, they can try to prove them in other ways than surveillance. This is a precedent that weakens the prosecutors’ position. Not everything permitted in the war against crime organizations is permitted in a disciplinary procedure against a senior prosecutor.”
A senior Tel Aviv prosecutor also defended Gutman, saying that “obviously a prosecutor is not immune to inspection but the question is how this is carried out. Prosecutors are very independent in their work. It is not possible to check when they are sitting and working on a case and when they aren’t.”
The Civil Service Commission commented that Gutman’s investigation was conducted in the customary manner applied to any civil servant subjected to disciplinary measures, senior or junior. Undercover monitoring and surveillance are generally part of the investigation, as they help corroborate or refute suspicions, a commission spokesman said.
The Justice Ministry’s spokesman’s office said in response that Gutman’s accusations against the Haifa prosecutor’s office are unfounded and should not have been made.
“When irregularities were discovered in the prosecutor’s work hours, management decided to give the case to the Civil Service Commission to investigate and deal with. The commission works at its own discretion and under its own authority,” a ministry spokesman said.
The State Prosecutor’s Office issued the following statement: “Regretfully, the prosecutors’ union is not familiar with the reasons for the Civil Service Commission’s investigation. We are convinced that had they been aware of the suspicions against attorney Gutman, which included reports of court hearings and meetings that did not exist, they would not say things could have been sorted out internally. We are sure that had the prosecution done that, it would be facing much harder questions by the media. It doesn’t make sense that when the prosecution is faced with false written reports and wants to get to the bottom of it, it comes under fire.”